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Changing your HIV treatment

changing your treatment

You might find that you need to change your HIV treatment. It is important that, before you do, you make sure that you talk to a health professional.

Why change your HIV treatment?

There may be a problem with the drugs you’re currently on if:

  • they are not keeping your viral load down.
  • your virus is resistant to them.
  • the side-effects are too difficult to deal with.
  • the drugs have to be taken at times that don’t suit you.
  • the rules about taking the drugs with or without food are hard to follow.
  • they don’t interact well with drugs you take for another condition.

How do you choose a new HIV treatment combination?

In these circumstances, there is probably a better combination available – in other words, one that will suit you better and give you better results. But to find the right one, you’ll need to work closely with your doctor.

Now more than ever, it is essential that you talk honestly with your doctor about any problems you’ve had with taking the drugs at the right time. If your doctor understands your lifestyle, it’ll be easier to choose a combination that is not too difficult to take.

It is likely that your doctor will carry out a resistance test, to check which drugs will work best against the virus you have. The British HIV Association (BHIVA, the organisation for specialist HIV doctors in the UK) recommends that resistance tests are always carried out before changing treatment.

Before you switch, make sure you know about the side-effects that new drugs could have. There is no point changing treatment if the new drugs are even harder to take.

When changing drugs, you normally change all the drugs in the combination, not just one or two.

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 3/7/2014 by R. Bignami

Date due for the next review: 30/6/2015

Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)

Current Owner: Greta Hughson (NAM)

More information:

Williams I et al. BHIVA guidelines for the treatment of HIV-1 positive adults with antiretroviral therapy 2012 (Updated November 2013)

http://bhiva.org/documents/Guidelines/Treatment/2012/hiv1029_2.pdf

Asboe D et al. British HIV Association guidelines for the routine investigation and monitoring of adult HIV-1-infected individuals 2011

http://www.bhiva.org/documents/Guidelines/Monitoring/hiv_971_EV.pdf